No Viable Option In Afghanistan?

   Reuters reports that 9 are dead and 23 injured, following the explosion of a car bomb at an airport in eastern Afghanistan.  Or perhaps I should say, following “another explosion.”

Earlier, a suspect, believed to be an Afghan intelligence officer, walked into a Command and Control Center and shot a Lt. Col. and a Major, both Americans,  in the backs of their heads.  He then walked outside and disappeared into a crowd of protesters. Some are linking the double murder to the inadvertent burning of copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, by the U.S. military.  Others, think it could be a sign that the U.S. Military and the Afghan military may never be able to work together in a country dominated by conservative Islam.   A country where girls were not allowed to go to school and women were forbidden from taking jobs and were whipped in the streets by religious “police” for being improperly dressed.  A country with a literacy rate of 28.1%.

According to Lt. General William B. Caldwell, the Afghan troops suffer from drug abuse and illiteracy.  Only one in ten can read at the third grade level.  About 30% of the troops desert  each year.  Among police the desertion rate is around 18%, in spite of the fact that we’ve been there trying pull things together since October of 2001.  Since they are now assassinating our officers, the idea that our military and the Afghans might never be able to work together doesn’t seem all that far-fetched, and yet Mr. Obama, wants to turn over major combat operations to the Afghans by the end of 2014.  Really?

Who got us into this?  George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the rest of the Bush Administration Neocons, who ploughed into Afghanistan without an exit strategy and then failed to take out Osama bin Laden and his command structure.  Later, they’d make the same mistake while taking us into Iraq, leaving Mr. Obama to clean up the mess they left behind.   And what are this President’s choices in Afghanistan?  He can either pull up stakes and leave, allowing the Taliban to reestablish control (which they are doing to a degree, anyway), or we can leave some or all of our 89,000 troops in place.  But for how long?  30 years?  50 years?  And to what end?

How long will we wait for George W. Bush’s delusion of a forced democratization of the Middle East to come into being?   Remember the words of former President Lyndon Johnson, as we continued propping up a puppet government in South Vietnam, not unlike the puppet the United States currently supports in Kabul-

“Our objective is the independence of South Vietnam and its freedom from attack. We want nothing for ourselves — only that the people of South Vietnam be allowed to guide their own country in their own way. We will do everything necessary to reach that objective, and we will do only what is absolutely necessary.” -Lyndon Baines Johnson

As we now know, that was a lot of nonsense.   LBJ, was more concerned with his self-interest, in not being the first U.S. President to lose a war, than with the best interest of the people of South Vietnam.

I am haunted by the thought that Democracy cannot be imposed.    People must want it for themselves, and badly enough to do whatever might be necessary to defeat fascism, religious or otherwise.  When religion and politics are one and the same, it becomes next to impossible to obtain freedom beyond the dogma and dictates of a handful of powerful religious leaders.  Something our founders obviously understood.  Something the Afghans will have to work out for themselves.

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